"The Guardian" is the eighteenth episode of the seventh season of ABC's Once Upon a Time and the one hundredth and fifty-first episode of the series overall. It aired on April 20, 2018. It was written by David H. Goodman & Brigitte Hales, and directed by Geofrey Hildrew.
Following Nick's death, Weaver discovers the Dark One Dagger has been taken and sets out to get it back, even if it means betraying Roni's trust. Meanwhile, Margot takes Tilly on a date, but their time together takes an unexpected twist. In a flashback, Rumple, desperate to be reunited with Belle, pays Alice a visit.
Flowers adorned the series' fonts.
In the Characters' Past
It has been a eternity for Rumplestiltskin since Belle's passing while enduring his life in the new Enchanted Forest realm. As he deals with the loss of his wife, Facilier shows up and offers a chance to communicate with Belle by having Rumplestiltskin give up his Dagger in exchange. Knowing Rumple, he doesn't want to make a deal involving the Dagger and it leads to a battle that Rumplestiltskin wins. Facilier however does tell Rumplestiltskin that Belle wants him to find the Guardian, a person who is ready to take possession of the Dagger and lead Rumplestiltskin out of the darkness, but if he fails the Dagger will become the sole possession of Facilier.
Later on in the Forest, Rumplestiltskin watched Alice and Robin while staying hidden, but (Wish) Hook catches him and warns him to stay away (as in this realm Rumplestiltskin is still a villain), despite claiming that Alice might be the Guardian he was looking for. Hours later and with the Darkness ready to consume him, Rumplestiltskin got the opportunity to see Alice and tells her that he has a way to break the curse put on her father's heart and that Facilier has the magic they need, but he won't give it up without a fight. Alice says she'll do whatever it takes to reunite with her father, but is horrified when she learns what it will take.
When Facilier arrives, Rumplestiltskin test out Alice's proof of being the Guardian by having her rip Facilier's heart out, but despite being desperate to save Hook, she refused to crush it and runs off. However, Rumplestiltskin did tell Alice that she was indeed the Guardian that will take possession of the Dagger. As they start the transfer, Rumplestiltskin hears Belle's voice coming from the Dagger. Realizing that this would become a burden on Alice, Rumplestiltskin holds off on giving up the Dagger until he found the perfect way to rid himself of the darkness, and wants Alice to be happy with Robin so she won't have to deal with the burden of the Dagger.
Later on, Rumple, now almost back to his original Dark One appearance, watches Alice be happy with Robin. He is surprised by (Wish) Hook, who has been told of the sacrifice he made by Alice. Finally seeing the good man that this Rumple became, (Wish) Hook offers to help find a new Guardian to release him. A stunned Rumple can only quip "Dark One and the pirate, friends?" (Wish) Hook tells him it's time they forged a new story, shaking hands on an unofficial deal. He asks what the Dark One what he will do next. Rumple fakes his eccentric happy behavior, telling him that he will get back to spinning, pettering out into a sad muttering as he repeats himself. He walks off, with (Wish) Hook sadly watching him.
In The Present Day
At the police station, Weaver and Rogers are about to question Nick about the murders, only to discover him dead. Weaver realizes that Samdi is responsible for Hansel's death, he leaves Rogers to lock down the building to stop Samdi, only to discover that its too late as Weaver finds the Dagger missing and believe its in Samdi's possession. Later on, Weaver visits Regina for help and tells her why he wants the Dagger back and to acquire some of the magic she's using to save Henry, but Regina turns him down. However, she agreed to confront Samdi about the Dagger. When Regina went to visit Samdi, he admitted to killing Hansel but it wasn't him who took the Dagger. Weaver doesn't buy Samdi's claim when he later confronted him and is ready to shoot Samdi, who reminded Weaver that he can't kill him without risking a permanent separation from Belle. Knowing the implications, Weaver is determined to find The Dagger, no matter the cost.
Weaver later resorted to desperate measures by stealing the magic ingredients from Regina without her knowing in order to create a tracker spell, which eventually leads him to Tilly. The voices Tilly was hearing were coming from the Dagger itself, thus revealing her as The Guardian as Weaver discovers, but at the same time believe that she never acquired or stolen the weapon. With the Dagger back in his possession, Regina visits Weaver and discovers who was the Guardian. She then confronted him on stealing the magic from her, thus ending any chance of her saving Henry. Feeling betrayed, Regina tells Weaver its over between the two.
Meanwhile around the same time, Margot meets up with Tilly (during the time she began hearing the "buzzing" coming from the Dagger she was unaware of), and the two plan for their first date together. The women visit a book shop, where Margot showed Tilly travel books on places she has seen upon learning about Tilly's desire to travel one day, only to be interrupted by the Dagger's voices again and the date abruptly ends. Later on at Roni's, Tilly catches up with Margot to apologize for ending the date, but Margot isn't worried about this, saying she understands and still wants to be there regardless.
In between the events, Henry is still confused over why "Nick" tried to kill him and as he explained what happened to Jacinda, he was more concerned about the test results that "Nick" showed him. He later asked Rogers (who was checking surveillance to see who last visited Hansel but Samdi had it altered) to return to the apartment to find the evidence. Rogers also noticed another surveillance camera of Drew near the police station, thus giving Rogers suspicions about him. As the two returned to the apartment, Henry finds the paperwork, but then he and Rogers heard sounds and chased down the intruder, who they discovers its Drew. It turns out that Drew was trying to find a way to protect himself from Samdi, and tells the two that Samdi was responsible for Nick's death but was afraid to go to authorities in fear of how powerful Samdi is, and points to how "Nick" actually died. When they see the autopsy results that discover Nick had died from a stab but from within instead of through the body, Rogers began to suspect something isn't right as Drew alluded earlier.
Henry later shared the results of the blood test with Jacinda after having it confirmed at the hospital for another test, and came back positive with each result. The discovery has Henry realizing that Lucy was telling the truth and why he should believe her stories.
- Dark Ones like Rumple start turning into a corrupted form only in magical worlds. This does not happen in Our World due to the poor amount of magic there. He only started reverting after Belle's love disappeared from the living world.
- Technically this is the first deal Rumple makes regarding the Guardian.